What frustrated me most about the game as I sat there literally on the top row of Jordan-Hare Stadium was the passivity Georgia showed once Auburn got the lead.
Watch Aaron Davis on this play.
What was he doing there? Spectators normally have to pay for a ticket. You can tell Parrish was expecting help from the inside that never arrived.
Some mental mistakes showed up as stupid penalties, but there were plenty of moments when players simply didn’t look like their heads were in the game.
If you’re talking passive, though, I can’t say there was a player who did anything that could touch the gutlessness of Smart’s call at the end of the first half when Georgia got the ball back, trailing 16-7.
The play call was set up by the best late first half game management of the season. Smart played into Malzahn’s natural conservatism, using his remaining time outs to force a punt from the Auburn 14-yard line with 22 seconds left in the half, a punt that Mecole Hardman promptly returned to the Auburn 26. With 17 seconds left, even with no time outs, Georgia had two shots it could have taken into the end zone and still left enough time on the clock to attempt a field goal.
Instead, they opted to run Michel into the line, netted a whopping one yard, called for a spike to stop the clock and then sent the field goal team out.
Forget that Blankenship missed the attempt. The message Smart sent to his team was that he was coaching scared. He didn’t exactly back away from that either as the teams went to the locker room.
As he was coming off the field, CBS sideline reporter Allie LaForce caught up with Smart as asked him if he regretted not being more aggressive with his team down by nine points in hostile territory.
“We probably should have,” Smart replied. “We thought they’d be playing more of a soft defense so we thought we might hit a run in there, but at the end of the day we’re trying to get a field goal. We thought we could get a couple of yards for the kicker and didn’t.”
I tweeted this during the halftime break.
What, though, was Smart supposed to tell those kids in the locker room about being the hunters, not the hunted? “Do as I say, not as I do”?
All in all, it was a reminder that this team and its head coach still have farther to go on their journey along the learning curve.